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Ten Things to do Before Moving

Your upcoming move will be a markedly different (and improved) experience if you plan ahead. This will help to ensure that all of your goods make it to your new home safely. Here, we’ve written down some pre-move steps that will make your relocation more manageable. These ten steps should help you make it to moving day in fairly good shape.

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    Conduct a Thorough Inventory of Your Home

    When you’re tackling any large-scale task, compiling lists is incredibly helpful towards any end goal you may have. Discussing your inventory and services lists with a moving company representative to give you an accurate estimate during a quote. This should ideally be done around eight weeks before your move, to provide yourself with enough time to fully prepare for each step in the process.

    Furniture and Items to be Packed

    Make an exhaustive list of all inventory your movers will be responsible for. All furniture and items you plan to pack should be included in this. Break your list down into separate sections for each room in your home to make it more manageable.

    Moving Services

    If you require help in the form of add-on services, you should write down a list of all that you’ll require. These can include the following:

    • Packing and unpacking
    • Crating
    • Auto-shipping
    • Cleaning services
    • Bulky or heavy furniture moving (for pianos, pool tables, and other similar items)
    • And more

    Book in Advance

    Begin looking into moving companies six weeks ahead of moving day. Especially if your move falls around the first or last of the month, or during the busy season, you could have a hard time booking with your mover of choice.

    Get Quotes

    When you’ve decided on a few options for your move, you’ll want to get quotes for service from each mover you consider. Even if you’re planning on booking a moving container for your relocation, looking into multiple options will serve you well, and could help you to book at a lower price.

    Evaluate Different Movers

    Use the following criteria to vet each mover you get estimates from. Request proof of registration and insurance before booking a move with any provider. Reputable companies will be able to supply relevant documentation when asked.

    • Proper registration: If yours is an interstate move, your mover will be registered with the FMCSA. In this case, you can use their accompanying USDOT and MC numbers to look up their complaint history and registration status through this link. If yours is a local move, most states will have their own governing body and requirements which you should look into.
    • Proper insurance: All movers have to carry multiple forms of insurance in order to legally operate. Along with cargo and vehicle coverage, workers’ compensation is a must for any moving company. Released liability coverage, which provides for a small amount of reimbursement ($0.60 per pound, per item) in case of damage or loss, is also included. You can purchase valuation coverage at an added cost if you would like protection for valuables.
    • Solid reviews: Look up past customer reviews for any mover before you book. These will give you some insight into company practices outside of their stated policies.
    • Matching service profile: All movers offer varied services, at different rates and qualities. Inquire about add-ons during the estimate process to gauge whether a given mover can help with your particular needs.

    Pack Early

    Packing should begin as soon as your exhaustive home inventory is complete. Ideally, around the six-week mark, you should have all of your packing materials ready. Begin with out-of-season clothing and seldom-used items. At this early stage, you’ll only need to pack a box or two per day in order to have all of your packing done before your scheduled move. Until the later stages in the packing process, you may be able to get away with hiding packed boxes in closets or little-used rooms of your home.

    Clean Your Home

    This is another step that can at least start during your home inventory process, and will be done in two stages. The first stage is a light decluttering during or after making your list of all goods to be moved. Doing this will make you feel like you have more room in which to work.

    In the final two weeks before your move, you should conduct a thorough deep-cleaning of your home. Whether this is a courtesy for the new owner, or a requirement of your apartment leasing office, doing this is well worth your time.


    While inventorying and cleaning, you’ve likely come across some items that you don’t plan on keeping, but may be too large to throw away. You can arrange for a yard sale if you have enough of these goods, or you can sell them through Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Doing this early on will ensure that you’re not responsible for throwing bulky items out or carting them to a thrift store during moving week.

    Plan the Changeover of Utilities and Services

    You should plan for your eventual change of utilities by contacting your current and future providers to set up activation and service stoppage dates. No matter when in the year your move may come, arriving at your new home and not having access to basic amenities is never fun. Be sure to account for the following:

    • Electricity
    • Natural gas or propane
    • Cable and internet
    • Water and sewer
    • Trash and recycling

    Change Your Address

    Filing a change of address form with the postal service is an essential step in any move. When you fill out this form, you can set a date to begin forwarding mail to your new address.

    Take Days Off from Work

    If your move conflicts with your work schedule, then you should apply for time off as soon as your move date is confirmed. Ideally, you should try to give yourself at least one extra day beyond the move itself to get settled. Unpacking can take weeks or months in some cases, and having some immediate time to get started could be crucial.

    Arrange for Child or Pet Care

    Having smaller children or pets around during a move can be stressful for everyone involved. Arranging for a family member or friend to help out, or blocking off an empty room for their occupancy during the move can save you a major headache.

    Assemble All Essential or Sensitive Documents

    You’ll want to put together a folder of all essential documents relating to your identity or finances, to be kept on your person at all times during your actual move. These can include:

    • Birth certificates
    • Social security cards
    • Passports
    • Personal IDs
    • Your new lease
    • Documents relating to your home purchase

    Pack a Moving or Overnight Bag

    A moving bag should include the following items, and should be kept with you during your move:

    • Your laptop
    • Your sensitive documents folder
    • Some cash for tipping or other expenses
    • Method of payment for your movers
    • Snacks and water for the day ahead
    • Keys to access your new home

    For a long-distance move, your moving bag will include a few changes of clothing, as well as some basic toiletries.

    Moving FAQ

    What’s the difference between a long-distance and local move?

    Each state has a slightly different definition of what constitutes a long-distance move. However, the main difference between them is how they are billed. Local moves are billed at hourly rates, while long-distance moving costs are based on shipping weight and move distance.

    Can I hire movers to pack my fragile items?

    Yes. In fact, most moving companies offer fragile-only packing. You should note that most movers charge two to four-hour minimums for service of any kind. So, if you only have a couple of items that require special care, you may be better served looking up instructional packing videos online and handling things on your own.

    Should I buy packing materials from my movers?

    This option is available from most moving companies. However, many movers upcharge for the convenience of serving as a one-stop-shop for your moving needs. Retailers like U-Haul and Home Depot offer high-quality boxes, mattress bags, tape, and more, at far better prices.